The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act is well known for how it has helped small businesses, similar to your husband’s. Many don’t realize that the CARES act was also designed to help older Americans adapt to the unprecedented public health emergency.
Through the CARES act, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that nearly a billion dollars in grants from the Administration for Community Living (ACL) will go towards helping to meet the needs of older adults and people with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. The grants will fund the following services for seniors: home-delivered meals; care services in the home; respite care and other support to families and caregivers; and more.
The CARES Act provides funding for programs authorized by the Older Americans Act of 1965 and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014. Through these programs, community-based organizations such as Area Agencies on Aging, Centers for Independent Living, senior centers, faith-based organizations, and other non-profits can provide resources and services to help seniors and help people with disabilities stay healthy and live independently in their communities.
Why CARES Act Provisions for Seniors are So Desperately Needed
Many seniors typically receive services in the community to help them stay healthy, safe, and independent, such as personal care assistance, home-delivered meals, and respite care for weary caregivers. Many of these services have been shuttered and the providers have temporarily closed down in an effort to slow the transmission of the coronavirus. The need for these services is still there, however, now more than ever. Adaptations necessary to provide these services in the current environment have increased costs to service providers. Funding from the CARES Act will hopefully help in making such adaptations. The $955 million dollars in CARES Act funding for senior programs is allocated as follows:
- $200 million for Home and Community Based Services (HCBS), which will help greater numbers of seniors shelter in place to minimize their exposure to COVID-19.
- These include personal care assistance; help with household chores and grocery shopping; transportation to essential services (such as grocery stores, banks, or doctors); and case management.
- $480 million for home-delivered meals for seniors. With this funding, states can also expand “drive-through” or “grab-and-go” meals for seniors who typically would participate in meal programs at community centers and other locations that have been closed due to social distancing measures.
- $85 million for Centers for Independent Living to provide direct and immediate support and services to individuals with disabilities who are experiencing disruptions to their independent, community-based living due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Services will ensure individuals with disabilities have the supports they need to safely stay in their homes or return home after a hospitalization or institutionalization during (and directly after) COVID-19.
- $20 million for nutrition and related services for Native American Programs to help tribes and tribal organizations provide meals and supportive services directly to Native American elders.
- $100 million for the National Family Caregiver Support Program to expand a range of services that help family and informal caregivers provide support for their loved ones at home.
- These include counseling, respite care, training, and connecting people to information.
- $20 million to support State Long-term Care Ombudsman programs in providing consumer advocacy services for residents of long-term care facilities across the country.
- Restrictions on visitation have significantly increased demand for ombudsman services, as families seek assistance in ensuring the well-being of their loved ones. Ombudsman programs will seek to expand their virtual presence to residents and their families, and continue to promote the health, safety welfare, and rights of residents in the era of COVID-19.
- This funding will give Ombudsman programs the flexibility to hire additional staff and purchase additional technology, associated hardware, and personal protective equipment once in-person visits resume.
- $50 million for Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRCs), which will fund programs that both connect people at greatest risk to COVID-19 to services needed to practice social distancing and seek to mitigate issues created by it, such as social isolation.
- ADRCs across the country are reporting unprecedented demand for assistance with applications for services, care coordination, services that support people in returning home following hospitalization, and similar services.
According to Administration for Community Living Administrator, Lance Robertson, “Area Agencies on Aging, Centers for Independent Living, and other community-based organizations are working hard to expand capacity to meet the needs of older adults and people with disabilities during this extraordinary time. These additional funds will allow for an incredible response at the state and local level to meet the needs of people who are facing some of the greatest risks during the COVID-19 emergency.”
Another law that was enacted that provides $250 million dollars towards senior nutrition programs is the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).
How Seniors Can Access Assistance During this Time
The following are resources to help seniors and people with disabilities during the coronavirus pandemic:
- Older adults who need assistance can contact the Eldercare Locator to find services available in their community. The Eldercare Locator can be reached at 1-800-677-1116 or https://eldercare.acl.gov/. In addition, the Eldercare Locator can help people with disabilities find their local Aging and Disability Resource Center.
- People with disabilities can locate their local Center for Independent Living at https://www.ilru.org/projects/cil-net/cil-center-and-association-directory.
- Medicare Coverage During Coronavirus Q&A – This helpful resource answers FAQs about Medicare coverage during coronavirus.
- Q&A on How CARES Act Payments Affect Eligibility for Benefits
- Senior Centers Connect: This toolkit provides tips to promote social connection for senior center participants when your center is closed.
- COVID-19 Fraud Alerts and Resources, from the Senior Medicare Patrol Resource Center
- gov Get the details on when to expect economic impact payments coming from CARES Act legislation.
- gov Learn how Medicaid and CHIP will cover and pay for COVID-19 testing and benefits in this fact sheet.
- Social Security Stay up-to-date on developments with Social Security benefits during the pandemic.
- Veterans Administration Find out where veterans can go for testing and treatment if they suspect they have coronavirus.
- World Health Organization Stay updated on what’s happening across the globe.
- For more information about COVID-19, please visit: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
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